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The Use of the Nurse in Jean Anouilhs' Antigone and Dr.Rank in Henrik Ibsens' A Dolls' House to Provide Exposition.

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The Use of the Nurse in Jean Anouilhs' Antigone and Dr.Rank in Henrik Ibsens' A Dolls' House to Provide Exposition. Hannah C. Karwatowska The Awty International School: D0436-020 TOTAL WORD COUNT: Throughout the evolution of literature, Greek through Modern, exposition has remained vital to the comprehension of literary work. In most pieces, contemporary or not, the author uses exposition to provide background information on main characters or past important events. Exposition can help to explain a character's motive, personality or relationships with others. In Jean Anouilh's Antigone and also in Henrik Ibsen's A Dolls' House, the authors create two characters, the Nurse, and Dr. Rank, specifically for this purpose. The authors use them repetitively to provide exposition on some of the main characters, but use different means to reveal this background information. The intent of this paper is to examine the differences between these two authors' methods of providing exposition. These minor characters provide most of the background information in the first scenes. The Nurse in Anouilh's Antigone provides exposition for Antigone and her sister Ismene, the main female roles in the play. Dr. Rank in Ibsen's A Doll's House provides exposition on a morally ambiguous character, Krogstad. This provision of exposition helps the reader to understand motives and also behavior towards a character before the character admits to himself, and the reader, his ambiguous actions. ...read more.


Rank explains that Krogstad, hired not because of his competence, but because of his potential danger to the bank, remains badly respected, and poorly welcomed considered dishonest in the eyes of all those around him. Dr. Rank implies that because Krogstad cheats other, more honest, men out of their rightful jobs, he is a threat to society. Here, Dr. Rank also points out some of Krogstad's possible motives for his malice directed at Nora (Krogstad, untrustworthy and dishonest, prioritizes money, which Nora has at her disposal) and also provides exposition on the time shortly before the play took place. Dr. Rank's previous dialogue points out the motives Helmer has for hiring and dismissing the lawyer from the bank, and also displays the general opinion towards Krogstad in this play- unwanted and mistrusted. Rank judges Krogstad on a mistake which Nora herself has committed, and in this way acts as a version of the Greek chorus in the play; the voice of the people. Rank represents the actions taken in the play; he has been molded by Helmer, and has become the person he is through Helmers decisions. Both the Nurse and Dr. Rank provide exposition, but only in the beginning of both plays. The placing of the exposition early in the play is effective because exposition is needed to explain what has happened, the motives for what will happen, and to clear up debatable issues within the literary piece. ...read more.


However, the Nurse, an emotional and caring woman, divulges past experiences and memories of her trustees through flowing and colloquial speech, giving insight into their personalities. The Nurse laces her dialogue with the emotion and tenderness she feels towards the two sisters. Her affection is shown by shying away from saying anything shocking or unkind about their personalities or past experiences. Her aversion to negative information is partly due to the fact that when she gives any exposition, she is always in the company of the sisters. Dr. Rank provides uninhibited insight. He speaks briskly and to the point, due to his brusque manner. He does not hint at the information he tries to divulge, instead he openly relates his opinion: brusquely and exactly. Both characters provide useful exposition, and with their absence, the plays would not be as seamless. Their contributions to the plays allow the reader to understand the motivations of certain characters, and the events that have led up to their current situations. These characters are essential, as they allow us to quickly interpret the actions of other key characters and also increased our comprehension of the events that lead up to the action throughout the plays. Although both authors and characters have different means of divulging information, the difference in style and attitude adds depth to the characters and makes the plays unique. ...read more.

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